Activity Report for Week of October 15 – October 21

  • My presentation to the NMSU Regents on Wednesday focused on retention of our first year class from Fall of 2015 to Fall 2016. NMSU’s highest retention in recent years occurred in 2012-13—when we had a retention rate of 73.6 percent.  The retention rate for 2015 to 2016 was 71.3 percent.  To better understand the factors that may have contributed to this lower retention and how to help our students succeed, Judy Bosland and her staff at the Office of Institutional Analysis studied nine risk factors.  They found that for four risk factors were elevated in 2015—males, low first semester GPA, number of students enrolled in developmental courses, and out-of-state students.  As they delved deeper into the numbers, they discovered that low-income status students were particularly vulnerable 2015 and that a higher percentage of students did not receive the lottery scholarship in the spring of 2016 than in the spring of 2013.
  • Further information on retention was provided by the Student Success Navigators. They contacted 181 first-year students who did not return for their second year in the fall of 2016.  The majority of these students, 108, reported that they did not return for financial reasons. Seventy-one of these students owed money to NMSU and hoped to return to NMSU when their financial picture improves.  Others among these 108 students reported that they transferred for: less expensive tuition (typically at community colleges); better scholarship offers; and/or, lower living expenses (moving closer to home).  The navigators also discovered that many students having financial difficulty also struggled academically and that many students realized they were in financial difficulty too late in the semester to develop a realistic game plan.  It is clear that earlier, more effective interventions are needed.
  • Going forward, I am working with staff in Financial Aid and Accounts Receivable to improve communications with students regarding academic performance, amounts due, and help available. Moreover, I will work with the Office of Institutional Analysis and academic advisors to review factors that may contribute to low first semester GPA, including patterns of coursework.  It will be important to implement our CRM Advise program as soon as possible so that better predictive analytics are available for faculty, navigators, and advisors.

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